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Archive for April, 2019

Remember all that talk from spring training about the Royals going back to speed and defense?

I guess management sold us another Trojan Horse…Somebody forgot to tell us the team has no hitting or pitching.

This is a team that only Rex Hudler could love. Last night, for example, on the pre-game show, Rex looked into his never-foggy crystal ball and predicted the Royals were going to beat the league-leading, heavy-hitting Seattle Mariners. Over the winter, the Mariners disdained a move to speed and defense and instead opted for power hitters.

The pitching match-up was journeyman Homer Bailey for the Royals (Homer is a career 67-game winner) and Felix Hernandez, a 169-game winner, for the Mariners.

Fortunately for the Royals, Hernandez was ill and came out after one inning. Bailey was going along alright, but the turning point came with two out in the top of the fifth inning, with the Royals leading 4-2 and the Mariners having runners on second and third.

At that critical juncture, as Bailey was pitching to Domingo Santana, Hudler announced, “I think we’ve got ourselves  a good starting pitcher.”

A pitch or two later, Santana mashed a base hit to left field, and the runners on second and third came home to tie the game.

I thought to myself, “Couldn’t Hud have just waited a few more pitches before making the judgment call on Bailey?”

Homer

Manager Ned Yost sent Bailey back out to the mound to start the sixth inning. The first batter hit a home run; the second walked; and the third singled. Yost then pulled Bailey, but the party was on for the Mariners, who sent another nine batters to the plate and scored an additional seven runs.

By the time a pitcher named Scott Barlow recorded the third out for the Royals, the Mariners led 12-3.

I stopped watching after Homer gave up the game-tying hit to Santana. The final score was 13-5.

Last year, the Royals went 58 and 104, and now — at 2 and 7 — they’re on pace to lose about 120.

I know this is crazy, but I think a loss record approaching 120 might test even Rex’s unbridled enthusiasm.

**

I was sorry to read in The Star that the Tivoli Cinemas are closing. I’ve been there many times over the years, but when Patty, Brooks and I were talking about the closing last night, it occurred to the three of us we had not been to the Tivoli very much in recent years. And that’s the main reason the place is closing: Not enough people have been going.

I think the last movie I saw there was “Puzzle,” a 2018 movie about an unfulfilled housewife whose life changes dramatically after she discovers she has a facility for working jigsaw puzzles. You’re just not going to see movies like that at the mainstream theaters.

The long staircase at the Tivoli

With the demise of the Tivoli, we still have Brian Mossman’s Fine Arts theaters in Overland Park. He has the Rio at 80th and Metcalf and the Glenwood Arts theaters at the Ranch Mart Shopping Center.

But as Mossman told The Star’s Joyce Smith, the Tivoli’s closing is “just a sad day for Kansas City, for the arts.”

**

Let’s end on a happier note. The Star recently ran a wonderful guest commentary by Mindy Corporan, whose father, William Corporan, and son, Reat Underwood, were killed April 13, 2014, by a wacko outside the Jewish Community Center.

Accompanying the commentary is a video of a meeting between Mindy Corporan and Sunayana Dumala, whose husband Srinivas Kuchibhotla was killed by another wacko on Feb. 22, 2017, at a bar in Olathe.

I urge you to check out the video. The two women touchingly talk about the friendship that developed between them after Mindy reached out to Sunayana.

Sunayana and Srinivas

Sunyana says in the video that Mindy related how waves of grief would suddenly overcome her and that it was part of a natural grieving process.

“It was a comforting feeling,” Sunayana says, “that there was this one person who I can share my pain (with) and who can relate to me and who can be on my side and guide me through that process…She has become more of a special friend and mentor.”

Mindy

As Sunyana speaks, Mindy looks at Sunayana, smiling gently and nodding.

It’s a video of two strong and beautiful women — one Hindu, one Christian — coming together almost out of necessity and under incredible duress. The deeds that brought them together are among the worst that have ever occurred in our area, but it is inspiring and uplifting to see something so good come out of those deeds.

P.S. The only thing I was sorry to see in Mindy’s commentary was that she and her husband and their surviving son Lukas apparently have moved to Florida in order to help Lukas get a new start in life.

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Juggling three election jurisdictions on my pocket calculator last night with the results pouring in, I thought I was on top of the numbers.

In the light of day and with more time to compute, however, I found I was off by a couple of thousand votes. (My father was the accountant; I was an English major.)

Last night I had Jolie Justus beating Quinton Lucas by about 400 votes. I recomputed this morning and came up with Justus with 12,630 votes and Lucas 10,287.

The third through seventh positions looked like this:

Alissia Canady — 7,514

Steve Miller — 6,800

Scott Wagner — 5,044

Scott Taylor — 4,875

Phil Glynn — 4,358

**

As expected, turnout was low. In Kansas City, 19 percent of registered voters cast ballots. In Platte County, it was 16 percent, and Clay County brought up the rear at slightly more than 13 percent.

The turnout will be significantly higher for the June 18 general election, and it’s hard to say if that will be of greater benefit to Justus or Lucas. It could help Justus because she is better known and has a deeper track record as an elected officeholder. On the other hand, Lucas has a more appealing personal story, having been raised by a single mother and having pulled himself to success through grit and intellect.

Justus will have near-unanimous support in the LGBTQ community, and Lucas will get the vast majority of African-American votes. He should pick up many of Canady’s votes, as well as those of Jermaine Reed, another African-American candidate, who finished eighth in the field of 11.

Another wild card is the DUI charge hanging over Lucas’ head out of Lawrence, KS, where he is a lecturer at the KU School of Law. He got a bum deal on that incident when an officer ticketed him after finding him asleep behind the wheel while parked and with the motor of his car running. He had been to a party, had some drinks, and when he got to his car, he started it but thought the better of driving and took a nap. Cop could have let him go but hauled him to jail.

Lucas is fighting the charge hard, and I would bet it will be dismissed. In any event, it didn’t seem to hurt him yesterday.

**

By not endorsing Justus in the primary (it went for Canady and Glynn), The Kansas City Star has already boosted Lucas’ prospects. As my friend Clinton Adams told me the other day, that March 27 editorial “took some steam out of Justus and Miller.”  The editorial gave Lucas a positive mention when it said:  “We’re also impressed by councilman and KU law professor Quinton Lucas, who pushed through the city’s first incentive reform, capping abatements at 75 percent.”

As I said in last night’s post, I now expect Lucas to get The Star’s endorsement in the general election, and that could be a huge factor, mainly because, even with its influence on the wane, The Star holds sway with many elderly people. That’s the paper’s core constituency, and they vote.

The scene yesterday outside St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Meyer Boulevard and Wornall Road

**

Let’s look at the results in the three most-contested, at-large City Council races.

In the 3rd District at large (the seat being vacated by Lucas), state Rep. Brandon Ellington defeated Wallace Hartsfield II, a minister, by a count of 25,261 to 18,770. Ellington turned to the council race because he is term-limited in his state office, now serving the last of his allowable four two-year terms. Both candidates will go on to the June 18 general election. Ellington has the advantage of name identity and previous public service, while Hartsfield has the support of Freedom Inc…Ellington will be difficult to beat.

In the 5th District at large, incumbent Lee Barnes Jr. easily defeated Dwayne Williams and Erik Dickinson. Barnes had 20,541 votes to 12,172 for Williams and 11,766 for Dickinson. Williams, president of the Twelfth Street Development Corporation, will advance to the general election, along with Barnes. Barnes ran with Freedom’s support in 2015, but Freedom grew disenchanted with him and threw its support to Williams this time around…Looks like Freedom is going to have to stomach Barnes for another four years.

In the 6th District at large (the seat Scott Taylor is vacating), Andrea Bough, a lawyer, outpaced Stacey Johnson-Cosby, a realtor, by a vote count of 25,879 to 18,580. Bough got the lion’s share of organizational endorsements. Johnson-Cosby’s prospects appear dim.

**

In the 4th District at large, incumbent Katheryn Shields swamped two opponents in the primary and will be re-elected June 18 to a second four-year term. (This is Shields’ second go-round on the council, having also served from 1987 to 1994.)

In the 1st District at large, political newcomer Kevin O’Neill, owner and editor of the Labor Beacon newspaper, is unopposed.

In the 2nd District at large, incumbent Teresa Loar is unopposed.

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It’s official: Jolie Justus has won the mayoral primary, with Quinton Lucas close on her heels.

With all Platte County, Clay County and Kansas City precincts reporting, here’s how the top seven mayoral candidates finished:

Jolie Justus — 13,702

Quinton Lucas — 13,334

Alissia Canady — 8,950

Steve Miller — 5,461

Scott Wagner — 4,982

Phil Glynn — 4,442

Scott Taylor — 4,079

So, Justus and Lucas — both lawyers who are finishing their first four-year-terms on the City Council — will advance to the June 18 general election.

…The biggest surprise to me is Lucas’ extremely strong showing. Although, like Justus, he had very good organizational support — including the black political organization Freedom Inc. and Local 42 of the International Association of Fire Fighters — I thought Justus would beat him handily.

Clinton Adams, an East Side activist who is aligned with Freedom Inc., said he believed Lucas’ campaign message of the need to rein in tax incentives to developers registered with voters and helped him significantly. He also said he believed a Kansas City Star editorial that was critical of Justus for not doing enough to separate herself from Mayor Sly James cut into her vote.

Adams also said he believed voters gave Lucas relatively large margins on Kansas City’s East Side, where Freedom Inc. is most influential.

…Tonight’s outcome should make for a very exciting and hard-fought general election. Justus had, and should continue to have, a fund-raising advantage, but with Lucas now fighting her on even terms, he will become more competitive on campaign finances. In addition, he will now get equal time under the media’s arc lights, meaning the name identity of both candidates will skyrocket and their positions on key issues will be widely reported.

He could benefit in another important way, too: He probably will get The Star’s endorsement.

A bit of a surprise was the third-place finish of Canady, another first-term City Council member. She benefitted partly from getting The Kansas City Star’s endorsement (along with Glynn), but she also ran a campaign that gained momentum along the way. This election should bode well for her political future.

Another surprise was the relatively weak showing of Miller, a former chairman of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission. He was the second-biggest spender, trailing only Justus, but he lost many votes in the Ward Parkway corridor to Glynn. Both are members of Visitation Catholic Church, 51st Terrace and Main, and they tapped some of the same contributors.

Taylor started out with the most funds but faded throughout the campaign.

Wagner, a Northland native, did particularly well in Clay County, but it wasn’t nearly sufficient to make him competitive with Justus and Lucas in the voter-rich area south of the Missouri River.

Congratulations to Jolie and Quinton on outstanding campaigns. We’ve got an entertaining 11 weeks in front of us.

P.S. I take no pleasure in banging on The Star, but for the life of me I don’t understand why the paper’s online story about the mayor’s race does not include any vote counts. All it cites is the percentages of votes that Justus and Lucas got. That is lazy, no-account and shameful reporting. Do the editors expect that readers seeking the statistical results are going to pore over the KC, Platte and Clay election-board websites and compute the vote counts? That’s the job of reporters. (THAT’S WHAT I DID FOR THIS POST!) But The Star has abdicated its responsibility on that important front.

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